Opinion

Amanda Marcotte: The David Duke Of Feminism

Mytheos Holt Policy Analyst

“This is difficult for the Aryan mind to even begin to comprehend, but in Jewish communities, when a girl is raped, rabbis, fathers, and other community leaders will often rally together to show support for… not the victim or victims… but the RAPIST. If that doesn’t concern decent people of conscience what will?”

— Stormfront user Dragonflame

“Conservatives who white wash the Duke rape case are speaking volumes about what entitlements they are willing tolerate, in this case, white male entitlement to abuse women and get away with it, especially if they are of the wrong sex class or wrong skin color.”

— Amanda Marcotte

Twenty-fourteen has been a bad year for feminism. From the UVA rape hoax to the anti-civil rights atrocities that are “affirmative consent” laws, from the the scandalous radio silence after the Rotherham scandal, to the ever-escalating #Waronnerds (reaching peak absurdity in the controversy over Dr. Matt Taylor’s allegedly “sexist” shirt), 2014 was the year when feminism underwent a fall from grace that even John Milton would cringe to chronicle. It was the year the movement that gave birth to the suffragettes mutated into the Jane Birch Society, though actually, that might be unfair to the Birchers – they only saw communists under every bed, whereas many modern feminists see misogynists and rapists not only under them, but in them, too. It was the year when feminism decided it had had enough of trying to get equal rights, and now only wanted to get even, in the words of one particularly frightening column.

It is hard to put a face on a movement that has become ever more indistinguishable from an anonymous plague of Tumblr-bred locusts. Nevertheless, if one had to try to name a columnist who embodies the strident, paranoid, illiberal, bigoted id of modern feminism, with a paper trail that reads like some ghoulish tract kept in the vaults of the Southern Poverty Law Center, it would undoubtedly have to be Amanda Marcotte.

It is not possible to overstate the intellectual dishonesty, moral myopia, psychological ill health, ideological hypocrisy and logical bankruptcy in evidence throughout Marcotte’s writing. Whittaker Chambers once denounced Ayn Rand, saying that in her work, “a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding – to a gas chamber, go!” But Rand’s gas chambers, if they existed at all, did so in the abstract. Marcotte, on the other hand, barely bothers to disguise the voice in her writing commanding, “get thee to the gelding knife.”

Indeed, if one reads even a small sample of Marcotte’s writing, it becomes clear that she views all men (especially the white variety, though by no means exclusively) as presumptive and/or would-be rapists who must be savaged, humiliated and persecuted at every turn due to their complicity in patriarchal oppression. Furthermore, for a man to be judged innocent of a sex crime by society is, in Marcotte’s view, not a testament to the efficacy of a liberal justice system, but rather a thumb in the eye of women everywhere. In fact, given the ugly, revanchist pose that Marcotte adopts, to say nothing of her zero sum view of gender relations, it’s not even accurate to call her a feminist so much as a female nationalist. And not the good sort of nationalist, either – rather, Marcotte’s idea of “girl power” should be heard with the same ominous connotations with which one hears David Duke’s invocation of “white power.”

In fact, the comparison to David Duke gets more distressingly apt the more one reads Marcotte’s work, which is so peppered with paranoia, accusation in place of argument and dehumanization of not merely ideological opponents but even friendly critics that with minimal editing (say, by switching out “men” for “Jews”), one could transform your average Amanda Marcotte column into a first-rate KKK pamphlet. Morally, she is indistinguishable from Duke and any number of other pathetically educated sociopaths who hitched their star to hate in order to rise in the world.

More measured critics have already expressed concern over Marcotte’s writing, some at lengths which this author cannot hope to match. For our purposes, however, only a few entries in Marcotte’s vast paper trail are needed to demonstrate the rank stench of prejudice rising from her stagnant corpus. To be clear, our purpose is not to show the many points of disagreement which Marcotte holds with conservatives or libertarians, but rather to establish her once and for all as a peddler of hate speech. It is not merely sufficient to show malice in Marcotte’s part in this respect, as many earnest defenders of social justice employ hateful rhetoric to describe their presumptively evil opponents. No, what separates the ideologically overzealous from genuine peddlers of hate is that the former will usually apply their rage consistently, whereas the latter will defend or condemn particular people, including their own allies, based solely on their willingness to allow the hate-monger to continue to persecute their chosen target.

In Marcotte’s case, this behavior takes two forms: Firstly, where rape accusations are concerned, she zig-zags between anti-racism and outright scapegoating in order to allow herself to maintain surety of the accused rapist’s guilt. Secondly, she ruthlessly attacks even fellow avowed feminists simply for the crime of failing to be sufficiently anti-male. Both of these tendencies are easy to demonstrate.

Rapist and racist: They only rhyme sometimes

If any incident was emblematic of the Torquemada-esque zeal with which Marcotte attacks accused rapists, it would surely be the infamous Duke Lacrosse case. Indeed, it was her absolutely vicious response to this incident that very nearly cost her one of her first high profile writing jobs as “blogmaster” for the John Edwards campaign during his ill-fated 2008 run. Marcotte didn’t get far, and had to resign in early 2007. Why? Because even then, her blog posts – especially the ones related to Catholics – read like hate speech, and people noticed.

Marcotte claimed, in her hyperventilating, self-pitying apologia, that the only people who had noticed were right-wingers, but the coverage at the time resoundingly refutes her. In fact, the literal headline of a news article by veteran anchor Terry Moran at ABC News about Marcotte’s position as “blogmaster” was “Does John Edwards Condone Hate Speech?” Note: This is ABC, not Fox News.

But even if Marcotte’s attacks on Catholics (actual quote: “What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Spirit?”) were Exhibit A in the case against her, Exhibit B was very clearly her writing about the Duke Lacrosse case. Marcotte was compelled to remove one particular offending post, but the money quote from it survives in Moran’s post, as well as others:

“I had to listen to how the poor, dear lacrosse players at Duke are being persecuted just because they held someone down and f**ked her against her will – not rape, of course, because the charges have been thrown out. Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair.”

Note the timing. Marcotte wrote this after the charges in the Duke Lacrosse case were thrown out, and the whole business was exposed as a sham. In fact, even in the sanitized version of the blog post that survives today, she writes, “The prosecution in the Duke case fumbled the ball. The prosecutor was too eager to get a speedy case and make a name for himself.” In a sense she’s right. Nothing says a prosecutor “fumbled the ball” like getting disbarred for deliberately withholding exculpatory evidence in a case. However, one suspects that Marcotte thinks Mike Nifong, the prosecutor in question, should have just found a more out-of-the-way storage locker for the “exculpatory evidence” in question, in view of her lengthy and disturbingly lynch mob-esque writing about the case. In fact, even after the case fell apart, Marcotte continued to insist, proverbially, that even if there wasn’t a rape, the players must’ve done something to merit a hanging:

“At bare minimum, the Duke Lacrosse team felt entitled to humiliate the strippers they hired because they were women and they were even paid for. At worst, they felt entitled to gang rape a woman for those reasons.”

This, however, didn’t hold a candle to Marcotte’s absolute freak out in response to someone suggesting that the Duke Lacrosse players had been railroaded in much the same way as the black defendants in the infamous Scottsboro Boys case:

“The cases don’t have much in common in any social sense. First of all, the Scottsboro Boys were accused in an atmosphere where lynchings were incredibly common in the South, whereas the Duke students are being accused where they are some of the most privileged in society. Second, the Scottsboro defendents had barely any defense at all, especially compared to the first class lawyers the Duke students can hire. The alleged victims in the Scottsboro case didn’t really explain themselves or the charges, and one never testified at all (presumably because she inconveniently refused to play along and pretend she was raped). I could go on, but you get the idea of why Barber’s comparison of the two cases is ridiculous.

But because the concept of racism has been reduced to intention instead of a systematic societal problem, people like Barber can get away with equating people who are loaded with privilege with victims of a racist system like the Scottsboro Boys. And that’s why it’s so damn frustratingwhen white liberals insist on making racism about someone’s intentions instead of the effects of their actions.”

Now, ignore for just a moment the absolute hilarity of Marcotte claiming there was substandard legal representation for the Scottsboro Boys, who may have had poor attorneys at trial, but turned down free help appealing their case from no less an eminence than Clarence Darrow, quite possibly the most high powered defense attorney in American history. That’s not the most important part of this passage. The most important part would be the second paragraph, where she says that no matter the intentions behind something, if it promotes racism in effect, it’s racist.

Philosophical problems (and there are many) aside, Marcotte is making a pretty daringly anti-racist statement in suggesting that intentions don’t matter if racism is their consequence. So one has to ask the question – can she live up to her own standard?

Who are we kidding? Of course not.

Flash forward to this year and the lurid accusations against Bill Cosby. One might think that Marcotte would be just a bit troubled at the rather stereotypical nature of the Cosby case. Perhaps she might fret over the fact that one of the most prominent and successful black men in America was being so thoroughly crucified over as-yet unproven accusations from a laundry list of alleged victims whose vast majority are white? After all, the Mel Brooks-inspired anti-racist headline writes itself, and whatever the intentions of Cosby’s accusers, any committed anti-racist would notice that the case plays into race anxieties about black male sexuality as old as D.W. Griffith’s film “Birth of a Nation.”

Did Marcotte, former bleeding heart defender of the black Duke Lacrosse victim, worry about any of this? Not a chance. Here’s an excerpt from her triumphal shriek about the Cosby case:

Over the past few years, this is the realization that has sunk into the public imagination: That most rapists are men who take pride in conquering women, who feel entitled to push past women’s boundaries, who think sex is a contest to be “won” instead of a mutual activity, and who may even think it’s funny or cool to get away with as much sexual abuse as they can. They know their victims aren’t consenting, and that is the challenge of it for them. They plan their crimes carefully. This is a game to them.

It was that realization that made it much easier for the public to square their image of Bill Cosby with the idea of a “rapist.” Cosby’s hard-working, strong-willed image was hard to square with the incorrect public image of an acquaintance rapist who just gets overwhelmed with lust and loses control. But once you understand that rapists are predators who have big egos and see women as objects to conquer and own, it’s much easier to see Cosby, who has never really hidden his more domineering tendencies, might find it exciting to treat women this way. And that is a huge part of why these long-standing allegations have finally caught the public imagination.

In other words, when anti-racism was helpful to Marcotte in masking her hatred for men, she relied on it as a defense. But the instant there was a black man to savage, her anti-racist resolve snapped like a lynching victim’s neck. It’s probably better not to imagine how Marcotte would have reacted to the actual Scottsboro Boys case if it took place today, let alone something like the Leo Frank trial (which also culminated in a lynching), where Marcotte probably would’ve been sounding broadsides about misogynist entitlement and creepiness on the part of nerdy Jewish men. Thank heaven she hasn’t had the chance to write something like that in real life.

Oh wait.


Regina George agonistes

Near the end of 2014, MIT professor and self-proclaimed avowed feminist Scott Aaronson commented on a lengthier blog post about sexual harassment at MIT explaining his discomfort with what he saw as oversimplified notions of male privilege among feminists. As anyone can see from the excerpt below, Aaronson’s response was a risky thing to write indeed, mostly because it opened up about something truly painful and showed a real source of vulnerability on Aaronson’s part, despite his still professing to be a “97 percent feminist.” Quote:

Here’s the thing: I spent my formative years—basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s—feeling not “entitled,” not “privileged,” but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison. You can call that my personal psychological problem if you want, but it was strongly reinforced by everything I picked up from my environment. […]

Of course, I was smart enough to realize that maybe this was silly, maybe I was overanalyzing things. So I scoured the feminist literature for any statement to the effect that my fears were as silly as I hoped they were. But I didn’t find any. On the contrary: I found reams of text about how even the most ordinary male/female interactions are filled with “microaggressions,” and how even the most “enlightened” males—especially the most “enlightened” males, in fact—are filled with hidden entitlement and privilege and a propensity to sexual violence that could burst forth at any moment.[…]

At one point, I actually begged a psychiatrist to prescribe drugs that would chemically castrate me (I had researched which ones), because a life of mathematical asceticism was the only future that I could imagine for myself. The psychiatrist refused to prescribe them, but he also couldn’t suggest any alternative: my case genuinely stumped him. As well it might—for in some sense, there was nothing “wrong” with me.

Some feminists, to their credit, responded with (relative) empathy. You don’t need to be told that Marcotte was not among them. In a screed so cruel it reads like the unfiltered contents of Mean Girls’ “Burn Book,” Marcotte decided to “translate” Aaronson’s entire painful and soul-baring blog post into the narcissistic straw-man that it “really” was, lest any feminist be fooled into feeling sympathy with the nerdy, gross freak. For instance, Marcotte scoffed that Aaronson seemed to believe that only men suffered fear of rejection. Never mind that his comment engendered sympathy not just from fellow men, but also from lesbians who felt similar embarrassment over their attraction to women.

As for Aaronson’s desire to be chemically castrated in order to avoid seeing women as sex objects? That was just Aaronson being lazy and “blaming his testicles, feminism, women generally, or the world for his mental health problems.” Oh, and to add insult to injury, when Aaronson remarked in a self-deprecating manner that some people might take his post as nothing but privileged “mansplaning,” Marcotte could only snarl:

“He really has a problem with women reacting normally to objective facts about the world, doesn’t he?”

Now, as already established by her Duke Lacrosse case writings, Marcotte is in no position to lecture anyone on objective facts. It seems unnecessarily cruel to say anything more, except perhaps that an educational grandee like Aaronson really shouldn’t trouble himself about the opinions of an English Literature major from St. Edward’s University, a school so painfully inadequate that it can’t even crack the national rankings of U.S. News and World Report.

Fortunately, Marcotte inadvertently hoist herself by her own petard in this exercise in adolescent bitchery. Remember that “this is a game to them” line about potential rapists in her Cosby article? Well, it came back to bite her. With a vengeance. Here are her responses to Aaronson’s anxiety over feminist theory about “microaggressions”:

“Translation: Unwilling to actually do the work required to address my social anxiety—much less actually improve my game—I decided that it would be easier to indulge a conspiracy theory where all the women in the world, led by evil feminists, are teaching each other not to fuck me. Because bitches, yo. […]

I have no doubt that men who spend their dates flirting with women instead of demanding that the answer for something Andrea Dworkin wrote 35 years ago do, in fact, get laid more.”

Yes, you heard right. Amanda Marcotte literally just got angry at someone for reading feminist theory instead of improving their “game.” In any other context, this would sound like something off of a pick-up artist’s blog. Yet for Marcotte, even scrupulous adherence to her own ideology is a casualty the instant it conflicts with her ability to dehumanize men into monstrous rape machines. Ironic, really, considering that her overwhelming thesis is that Aaronson doesn’t see women as people, despite the fact that, as Marcotte laughs without a hint of irony, all his difficulties were caused by reading feminist theory instead of talking to real women. Yet if real women provide such contrary data to feminist theory, then the inescapable internal logic of this is that feminist theory has no idea how real women act. And considering one blogger’s description of Marcotte as a “Vogon spy in a skin suit,” this should surprise no one.

Let us not lose sight of the point:  Marcotte is willing to throw any ideology – even her own – under the bus the instant following it conflicts with her capacity to spew bile into the air. To call her a feminist is a disgrace to feminism. She is only a feminist to the extent that she believes the suffering of men is an implicit gift to women.

Yet even that belief is not entirely well-established, for while it is easy to write Marcotte off as a woman who, in any other circumstances, would be seen as a hate group leader, even this may mistake her motivation for principle (albeit a loathsome principle), when its true source is nothing but undirected spite. A massive, unanswered question looms over Marcotte’s writing: does she actually hate men, or merely anyone who happens to be better educated, more accomplished or more intelligent than she is?

If the former, one would have great trouble explaining her attacks on fellow women – women like Christina Hoff Sommers, Kathleen Parker and Cathy Young – or her willingness to work for a white male philanderer like John Edwards, especially given the fact that at the time, he was in competition with Hillary Clinton, who will likely become the first woman nominated for president by a major party in 2016. And that’s not even touching on her affection for Ted Kennedy. These are not the actions or sentiments of a committed man-hater.

Yet perhaps our answer can be found if we look to Marcotte’s writing on herself. In a rare introspective post regarding her former employer, Senator Edwards, Marcotte writes:

“Edwards’s fall from grace represents more than the tabloidisation of modern American politics, but also the dashed hopes of the left of the Democratic party for a populist leader who could lean on the leadership to take more progressive positions on economics. It was this enthusiasm for economic reform that led me to join Edwards’s 2008 campaign, and to continue to support it after resigning. And it’s this hope that made the evaporation of his leadership bid in a sex-and-finance scandal all the more devastating.”

And who does Marcotte wish Edwards had been around to target? Not men, contra what one might expect. Not even anti-feminists, but Wall Street, Tea Partiers and the “selfish” people who ignore the interests of “ordinary Americans.” Presumably, Marcotte means people like her, even though she probably wouldn’t know an “ordinary American” if they danced naked through Park Slope. But she does know that Wall Streeters have more money than her, that Tea Partiers have more political power than radical feminists, that alumni of the Duke Lacrosse team will always have more opportunities available to them than Brooklyn hipsters from fourth-rate schools, that Bill Cosby will always be more famous than she is, and that MIT professors will always be smarter and more accomplished than she could dream of being. What’s more, most of these people are men, and though there are exceptions, they can be written off as traitors to their sex. In other words, the answer to the question of whether Marcotte hates men or just her betters may be “all of the above, ideally at the same time.”

In 2008, this author met Phyllis Schlafly at CPAC. Despite having many disagreements with Ms. Schlafly, then and now, she said something very memorable and wise. When told by the author that she was accomplished in ways that many feminists only dream of, Schlafly replied, “Only because they believe they don’t believe they can accomplish it.”

It is this precisely this defeatism that motivates Amanda Marcotte, and which has transformed this woman, like so many envious and opportunistic bottom feeders before her, into a pathological bigot: Ultimately, while she may hide in the soothing embrace of radical, man-hating feminism, it is not the fact of being masculine, but the fact of being superior to her that Amanda Marcotte will never forgive.